President Trump came to Greensboro, NC on the evening of October 7th to attend a fundraiser. To ensure there is a television news camera crew with the President at all times, the major networks share the duty of providing coverage. Instead of all three networks each providing coverage of the arrival they share a “pool” video crew. A camera crew from CBS News would be on Air Force One with the President. I was called up by cameraman Bill Jensen from Durham to help him provide video coverage of Air Force One and the President’s arrival at PTI Airport for ABC News.
We arrived at PTI Airport just after noon and met with an ABC News producer and satellite truck operator from Washington, DC. Airport staff escorted us out onto the tarmac and Bill set up his camera on a flatbed trailer near where Air Force One would park and I set up audio gear to record sound. We ran a cable from us to the satellite truck that was parked outside the perimeter security fence and would be broadcasting our signal live via satellite. Then we had to leave the airport property will the Secret Service did there security sweeps. The Secret Service is definitely made up of a group of very dedicated and thorough men and women. They take their job super seriously from what I have seen.
An hour before the President was supposed to arrive, we went through Secret Service body scans and were allowed access back out onto the tarmac. Our job was to capture Air Force One landing and arrival and the President as he walked off the plane. The security was incredibly thorough and included numerous advance Secret Service agents, military personnel, medical teams, and overwatch. As the arrival approached a group of supporters were allowed access out onto the tarmac as well and into a pen set up for them. Just then a tremendous rain storm opened up the skies with a downpour. Bill, myself and all our gear was wrapped tight in rain protective clothing and covers. The group of supporters had to weather the storm without umbrellas, but they all stayed.
We started feeding our video footage live via satellite out to ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, CSPAN and all their local affiliate TV stations. Air Force One dropped into view and made a landing and halfway down the runway disappeared into a cloud of rain, mist and fog. It finally taxied to within 500 feet from us. Air Force personnel hurriedly readied the jetways. President Trump appeared in the doorway, was handled an umbrella by an unknown arm from within the plane, and processed to wave and make his way down the jetway steps. Instead of making his way into his awaiting limo called “The Beast” the President made his way over to the soaking wet crowd and did some hand shaking, photo taking and some casual conversation. I was capturing sound of the conversations that were half drowned out by the still turning jet engines of Air Force One.
While the President was interacting with the crowd a huge crowd of White House staff, military advisors and traveling press exited out the rear door and huddled under the massive body of the jet as protection from the rain. They walked a short distance on the tarmac and into a roughly 25 vehicle motorcade. The motorcade was made up of State Police vehicles, military vehicles, local ambulances, four 15-passenger vans for press, and numerous Secret Service vehicles. With the President in “The Beast” the motorcade left from the tarmac away to the event in Greensboro.
Our mission was accomplished and Bill and I started breaking down our video camera gear. We had to wait around for a few more hours “just in case” anything happened. After the event the President returned, boarded Air Force One with a final wave from atop the jetway stairs, and the Air Force pilot made the fastest and tightest turn around I have ever seen a 747 perform. Moments later they were airborne back to Washington, DC. Our day of streaming and video recording this live event was done.
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